England’s largest and most elaborate provincial medieval city hall, Norwich Guildhall was the centre of city government from the early 15th century until its replacement by City Hall in 1938.
The elaborate design and size of the Guildhall reflect Norwich’s status as one of the wealthiest provincial cities in England in medieval times. The building represents the growing economic and political power of the new ruling elite that was emerging – wealthy freemen who were merchants and traders. Norwich was given more self-governing powers in 1404 and the Guildhall was built to house the various civic assemblies, councils and courts that regulated its citizens’ lives. Evidence of these historic functions, which continued until the 20th century, can still be seen. Other parts of the building are in commercial use.
The exterior provides an excellent example of the flint work that the city is so famous for. The east end of the building was reconstructed in the 16th century and is crafted from alternate squares of faced flint and ashlar stone, giving the building its chequered effect.
Tours of the Guildhall are usually available during Heritage Open Days, and a cafe in the building is open year round.
To find out more, visit Norwich HEART.
Plan a trip to historic Norwich and explore other highlights with Visit Norwich.